Chechen leader invokes damnation for gay persecution claims

Chechen regional leader Ramzan Kadyrov attends an international friendly soccer match between Russia and Romania in Grozny, Russia, on Nov. 15, 2016. Denis Tyrin/AP Photo.

MOSCOW — Chechnya’s strongman leader has harshly denounced claims that the Russian republic has tortured and killed gay men, denying that there are even any homosexual men in his region.

Kremlin-backed Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov has faced wide international criticism since a Russian newspaper reported this spring that his security forces had detained, tortured and sometimes killed gay men.

“This is nonsense. We don’t have those kinds of people here. We don’t have any gays. If there are any, take them to Canada,” Kadyrov says in an interview with HBO Real Sports cable television show. HBO released excerpts of the interview on Friday.

He also says those making the allegations are “devils.”

“God damn them for what they are accusing us of,” he says.

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